© Copyright – 2018 – Victoria Sports News
The Saanich Braves defeated the Campbell River Storm in overtime by the score of 5-4 during the sixth period of play.
Tuesday, the Braves entered the Rod Brind’Amour Arena in Campbell River as the underdogs in the final playoff series of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. It is a daunting task to try to win there. The Storm lost just three times at home during the 2017-2018 regular season. Their record was 20-3-1-0.
As usual, the Storm finished first in the North Division and first in the league this year with a record of 36-6-4-2 for 78 points. Their goals against average was an intimidating 1.98. They scored nearly five goals per game at 4.94. Only Nanaimo was close with 76 points on the season and the only other team in the league with more than four goals per game.
The Braves had not made the league final in 22 years, since 1996. They barely finished first in a very tight South Division during the regular season going a modest 26-17-2-3 for 57 points. But they dispatched the aggressive and feisty and much-improved Nanaimo Buccaneers in seven games.
Tuesday, during game one, in regulation time, the Storm threw their typical 41 shots at goaltender Riley Mathieson and held Saanich to just 30; to overtime they went.
From the start of the game, the teams exchanged goals back and forth throughout.
The Braves got on the board immediately to open the scoring at 20 seconds. Sean Ramsey scored from Dale McCabe and Gavin Grewal.
Jake McKenzie answered back at 6:29 with an unassisted marker.
Michael Sproule would score once in both the second and third periods and Zack Guerra would tie the game up at 16:13 to send the game into overtime.
For Campbell River Darren Hards, Dawson Frank and Kyle Kaufman would reply, each time a Brave would score, they would score too. It was a see-saw battle.
It took three overtime periods to declare the winner at 10:34 Sproule completed the hat-trick. Evan Agbrall and Trevor Owens earned assists on the play.
In the end, the Storm had taken a massive 71 shots on Mathieson, while Liam Murphy faced 48.
The Braves went 0/5 on the man advantage, while the Storm went 1/5.
The teams renew acquaintances for game two on Friday, March 23 in Campbell River with a 7:30 pm puck drop.
Elsewhere in local hockey, the Victoria Grizzlies now down three games to one, lost to Powell River on the road by the score of 3-2. They need to win three consecutive games to win their second-round playoff series.
They did come back against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs with four straight wins, but the Kings are a little tougher of an opponent.
Hunter Finlater scored twice during the first period to put the home team up 2-0.
Grizzlies’ Jordan Guiney would score the only goal of the second period.
The teams exchanged goals during the third. Ben Thomas scored for Powell River, while Marty Westhaver got his second in two games. He scored the winner in game three.
Both powerplays went 0/2, while the Kings outshot the Grizzlies 43-36.
Matteo Paler-Chow earned first star honours manning the net for Powell River twice in this series, was strong again, Tuesday night. Kurtis Chapman has been solid for the Grizzlies, but took the loss in net in Powell River.
The teams return to Victoria for game five Friday, March 23 at The Q Centre – a must win for Victoria.
The Victoria Royals begin their post-season play Friday and Saturday as they host the Vancouver Giants, puck drop at the Save-on-Foods-Memorial Centre is scheduled both days for 7:05 pm.